Ray's Small BizBuzz
We’re all committed to working smarter these
days. We’re busy cutting expenses, trimming
the fat and streamlining processes whenever
possible. But there’s one wasteful habit
we’re loathe to give up. Many of us still
want to sell to “everyone.”
These days, most entrepreneurs are thrilled
to sell their wares to anyone who wants to
buy them, and that’s fine. However, when you
try to include “everyone” in your marketing
message, you may actually end up reaching no
When you broaden your message too much, you
risk watering it down to the point where it
no longer resonates with your best
prospects. That’s symptomatic of a lack of
focus—a dangerous flaw to have, especially
Furthermore, small businesses simply don’t
have the time, resources or staff to chase
every demographic. The reality is you can’t
sell to everyone. Nor should you want to.
Yet many companies continue to take a
scattershot approach to marketing and sales,
thinking they’re more likely to score a hit.
The truth is, if you want to hit the
bull’s-eye, aim with a rifle, never a
How do you do this? Start by determining who
your best customer is by reviewing your
current customer base. Identify your “A”
list customers, along with what makes them
valuable. Describe them in as much detail as
possible. What common attributes do they
share? Is it age, gender or annual income?
If you are a B-to-B operation, you can use
the same kind of process. Do you value large
firms or small ones? Or companies in certain
industries or areas? Keep thinking until you
arrive with a detailed description of your
target B-to-B prospect.
Next question: What draws them to your
products or services? What needs do you
fill? How do you fill them better than your
competition and how can you improve?
By the time you complete this exercise, you
should not only know what your target market
is, but what message you should be marketing
to that market.
The same philosophy applies to customer
service. Are you exhausting your staff in an
effort to provide exceptional service to all
customers? That may be admirable, but it’s
not very wise. Resources are limited,
especially these days, and frankly, not all
customers deserve it.
So figure out who is worthy of your best
service. Start by classifying your customers
in groups from “A” to “F” based on criteria
that matters most to you. Is it a customer’s
sales potential, profitability or payment
history? Is it the ease of doing business
Once you’ve classified your customers,
analyze what level of service you’re
providing to each of them. Logically, you
should be reserving your very best service
to your “A” list customers, but don’t be
surprised to find you’re providing best
service to your worst customers. Often, the
demanding, difficult accounts are the ones
you spend the most energy trying to please.
There is both a direct and indirect cost to
servicing a customer. Delinquent accounts,
demanding accounts and unprofitable accounts
all represent lost opportunity. And while no
one wants to lose a customer right now, can
you really afford to let an “F” list
customer put a drain on your organization?
And if you recognize that you’ve been taking
some quiet “A” list customers for granted,
maybe it’s time to shower them with more
Targeting customers is yet one more way you
can cut, trim and streamline your business.
It will save you money, time and
aggravation, but best of all, it will also
position you for future growth.